(edited for clarity)
Joey-Linn Ulrich, MVI: Good evening everyone. My name is Joey-Linn Ulrich, and I’m the Chief Operating Officer with the Mon Valley Initiative. I’m happy that you’re joining us this evening, and we thank you for coming to hear more about the Clairton Inn project, as well as more about how to become a tenant in the new development, as well as more about the commercial spaces, I’d like to begin by going over a few housekeeping items to get us started for all the participants that have joined us, thank you so much, you will be muted throughout the event, but we’ll have an opportunity to ask questions throughout that will be answered at the end. A transcription will be available after the event is finished, and we are recording the event, the recording of the event will be available on YouTube, as well as Facebook when we are finished. If captions are needed, please select the closed caption option on your zoom or your Facebook account. To be added to an updated list to receive information and updates about the Clairton Inn apartments. Please email MVIoutreachteam@gmail.com. You can also call 412-464-4000-extension 4009 and leave a message and we will be sure to get back to you with follow-up to questions and answers that you may have.
If you have questions throughout the presentation, you are able to submit those via Zoom at the questions and answers at the icon at the bottom of your screen, you can also submit them via a voice line by calling or texting 412-545-3181 throughout tonight’s presentation. Finally, if you’re joining us on Facebook, you can ask questions via the Facebook feed and we will be sure to feed those in so that we can answer as many questions as possible throughout the evening. Thank you again for joining us. As many of you may know, the project that is taking place is called the Clairton Inn and will be taking several months to complete, but it is important that we start sharing the process for becoming a tenant early, and we want to make sure that we’re sharing as much information as possible throughout the process, there will be an opportunity to learn more about the project and to add your name to the communication list to learn more as we go on through the process and the application process and timeline. Many of you may know, we did have a workforce session that was held earlier in August, so if you’re interested in learning about that, please visit Clairtoninn.com for a recording of that session and to learn about that information.
We recognize that not everyone is able to join us this evening and may not have access to technology regarding this information, but may be interested in learning more about how to become a tenant, if so, information will be available throughout the Clairton community at several locations, including the Clairton municipal building, as well as other places that you’ll be able to find information [Produce Marketplace, Garletto’s Diner, Terrace Gardens, the laundromat, Clairton Family Center] so you can feel free to pick that up and please spread the word for anyone that’s interested but was not able to join us this evening. I’d like to move now and introduce the guests that are joining us that are on our panel this evening, I will move on my screen since we’re joining this by zoom, so I’m going to go around my screen to introduce everyone. I’d like to introduce you and when I introduce you just wave, give a wave out so that everyone knows who is with us this evening. Councilwoman Johnson-Clemmons will be joining us this evening. She’ll be helping moderate the Q and A session that will be held towards the end after presenters finish their presentations. We also have Laura Zinski, the CEO of Mon Valley Initiative (MVI).
Andrew Ritchie, he is the project manager, is also joining us this evening with MVI, Rebecca Copeland, the regional property manager for NDC will be joining us as well to talk to us about the process for becoming a tenant in the new Clairton Inn Apartments. Mark Harvey Smith, Mark is helping us with the commercial spaces, so any questions can be directed to him this evening, Gary Atcheson, he’s working with us. He’s the LGA project architect on the project this evening. Finally, and then I’ll be turning it over, we have Mayor Richard Lattanzi. Mayor, I’d like to introduce you and ask you to begin and kick us off with talking about the project and the work that’s happening in the city of Clairton. Thank you.
Clairton Mayor Rich Lattanzi: Thank you, Joey-Linn. And I want welcome everyone here today, it’s a very exciting time for the city of Clairton. We have a major development, the Clairton Inn, and we’re going to learn a lot of information about it today, but I want to start a little bit about talking about the history of the city of Clairton, back in the 80s, when the mill declined and some jobs were lost, a lot of the businesses in Clairton left as well, along with some of the constituents. At one time, the City of Clairton had about 20,000 residents. It was a bustling booming town, and today we have about 6700 residents, and the people of Clairton been very, very patient. We haven’t had a development for over 50 years, and this Clairton Inn is going to be the cornerstone in the business district, and we’re so excited and it was a vital part of our development for the city, and I know along the way it’s going to add many more businesses to our town and it’s going great so far, and I can’t think all the people enough that had anything to do with the development of Clairton. The city of Clairton came out of Act 47 in 2016.
It was a status because the city was broke and we were run by the government, and our financial affairs were pretty weak and poor, but over the years, the city rebounded after 29 years, and in 2016, with the effort of myself and city council and our administration here at the City of Clairton, we emerged that about 47 and shortly after that, we awarded something called an NPP, a neighborhood partnership program, and the NPP simply is a long-term collaboration, roughly five years or more with business, government and community leaders to produce a comprehensive asset based, relationship-driven approach to community development, in other words, the city can’t do it alone, it’s a large team that works together for the betterment of the city of Clairton, and it’s been working out wonderful, and I’m very grateful for all the people that have anything to do with us coming out of Act 47 and the NPP. I want acknowledge the DCED, they’re very instrumental in the city being awarded the status of NPP, and I also want thank the funders, we could not do anything without the funders, BNY Mellon and Highmark–very instrumental for us move forward. EDS was our advocate for us moving forward with the NPP funds that were given to the city of Clairton for development.
And we’ve come a long way with them, and we met a lot of people that were instrumental and very happy. One of the people who are going to be talking tonight is more Mon Valley Initiative, and this project wouldn’t be possible without their leadership from Laura Zinski and Andrew Ritchie and their team. It’s been wonderful. So, the city of Clairton has some other developments in town too that I’ll briefly touch on because of the NPP and what we did with EDS, we were able to open up our first Produce Marketplace and Felix, the manager, and Lorraine working over there at the store, they have done some wonderful things. So people in Clairton have the opportunity to get some fresh food and some produce over there. And it’s not just a store, people come in there and there is some pop-up events, they could sign up for various programs and a lot of information. Maddie, she drives this whole process. And she goes in and out of the store, she comes in the same building, and she puts these events together, and we’re so blessed to have somebody like Maddie around as well. And I can’t be remiss without forgetting the politicians that been very instrumental.
Mike Doyle, Jim Brewster, our State Senator, Austin Davis, our State Representative Ali Doyle, Johnna Pro and the DCED head Dennis Davin, which was a big part of the county, and he’s now with the DCED. We couldn’t have done it without these guys, and there was a gap for funding as well, and I can’t thank the county and some of these state programs for bridging that gap to making all this possible. And like I said, we have some other developments right now the Speedway was built, and they’re doing quite well. DiMarco construction is building, and he also just recently came into an agreement with the city of Clairton for the property next to Speedway to develop. We’ve got Cornerstone Care, which is working in Clairton presently, and they’re looking to buy some property in Clairton St. Clair Avenue and looking to build a new medical center, and we’re going to have a Redevelopment Authority meeting tonight, and that’s one of the things we’re voting on. We have Tye Bar, which is an industrial mini-mill that does rebar, and they’re going to be interested in the property down in Clairton which is our Blair ball fields, and they’re looking to come into Clairton and build about a three-million-dollar project and about 35 new jobs.
Very exciting stuff. We just recently went after the bank across from our new development, which was the PNC Bank, the City of Clairton’s been for so long longing for a community center. So, on April 30th, we will be doing a closing and the keys will be turned over to us, and the city of Clairton and council are going to move forward with a community center for the benefit of our community. And that’s going to go a long way. We also have a beer and wine store that’s going to be getting started this summer, and that’s going to be down in Wilson on Elm Street and State Street, and we have a fellow named Don that just recently opened up the cotton candy store, which is also on State Street in Wilson and the cotton candy is fabulous. That’s another new additive. We have a young lady that’s going to open up a beauty shop and a hair extension and nails next to the Produce Marketplace. She was a young lady with ambitions of having our own store and store front, and we were happy to help get her started and get her in line with the right people that could give her a business plan and get her started.
We have so many things going on. We have a fresh new look, there’s so many different small pop-up events and people doing the projects in the city of Clairton, it’s fabulous, and with the new building besides the 49 new affordable apartments, we have five to six new store fronts and moving our library across the street to a new environment that is just going to be so wonderful for the city of Clairton and the constituents. Also, the city of Clairton, we cannot move forward if we can’t have the safety for the city. So, council and the mayor were able to get some money from the US Steel benefit trust fund, and we’re looking to add some solar lighting and cameras to the business district throughout the city, and we believe that will make it safer for our constituents, and it’ll promote the business district as well. So that’s just touching on some of the things that are going on in the city, there’s more to come, but I just wanted to mention some things that are going on and on behalf of myself and council, I would like to thank everyone that had a hand this new Clairton Inn and anything with the revitalization of the city of Clairton.
So, to go ahead and talk a little bit more about the building, I would like to turn it over now to Laura Zinski, who is the MVI CEO and thank you.
Laura Zinski, MVI chief executive officer: Good afternoon everyone. Hello. I should have tested my audio first, maybe Mayor give me a thumbs up if you can hear me. Okay, good. Alright, I think my camera is still off, and I’m not 100% sure how to get that back on, so I’m going to leave that to Maddie if she can help me with that–start my video. Yes, she could. Perfect. Alright, not that you need to see me.
As the mayor said, I’m Laura Zinski of the Mon Valley Initiative. MVI was formed back in 1988 in a response to the decline of the steel industry and other kind of major industries in the valley, and we now function as a regional community development corporation, and our mission is to strengthen the Mon Valley region by responsibly investing in our people and our places, and so we do that with a real estate and community development program, we also do that through career and financial coaching that we provide directly to individuals as well as housing counseling and training for folks that help get prepared for home ownership, and we also work directly with some smaller local groups that we help in their activities, and we’re just really, really, so proud of the Clairton Inn project and the incredible amount of work that went into it. In the community-based planning there were design charettes, the teams came together through the NPP, the Neighborhood Partnership Program as the mayor mentioned, and were really able to survey people and find out what really was needed and what was desired in the community, and what were areas to really focus on.
And that kind of part of the main street district there on Miller and St. Clair came up over and over and over again as a key place that needed some assistance and some revitalization, so we’re really, really happy to be under construction with the project, it was a heavy lift to get the finances together, but we were able to do that in partnership with a lot of organizations and, thanks, they just put the new slide up of all the funders, which the mayor mentioned a few, Allegheny County, BNY Mellon, Highmark, Economic Development South, which was the CDC entity that has now been enfolded into Mon Valley Initiative. They started it off, and we are so blessed to have Joey-Linn and Maddie and Felix and Lorraine coming on board. They now work for MVI, and so we are going to keep that program going. The city of Clairton contributed greatly through leadership and support on the property acquisitions, and also, of course, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency is the entity that distributes low-income housing tax credits and other kinds of support to the project, so they were a big player for us as well as Allegheny County and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
So, we were very, very excited to have so many people who were in agreement and on the same page about what needed to be done, and that’s what allowed us to leverage such a large project that really, I think, will be catalytic for the heart of the community. Just a little shout out to the project team that you can also see on the screen: MVI is the developer, of course, we need an architect, which is LGA Partners, and they’re on the panel today, as well as Mistick Construction who has just been tremendous. They really are committed to local hiring and trying to engage people in that process. We had a great engineer, WBCM. And of course, PNC is the main investor, they bought the tax credits and are the main provider of the equity to the project, and of course, we had a great attorney at Buchanan Ingersoll our good friend, Michelle. So, we just had a lot of great support, and we do have some good panelists, so the people who are closely involved in the project and in the know, so if you have questions, we can hopefully answer them. We’re really excited to be in the ground, if you’ve been to Clairton and you’ve seen that…
…the demolition has started, the building at 601 will stay and be renovated, but then we’re building new buildings through the rest of the block, and so that demolition process is largely finished and we’re getting ready to come out of the ground, but it’s still a long way off. As you’ll hear from the panelists, this is going to be a long construction period–over a year, we’re looking at 2022 time frame, so it’s time to think about it, but they’re not taking applications just yet, but we’re really excited and we just want to make sure everybody’s really informed about what’s happening, and so that you’re ready and know that it’s coming, and it’s not a surprise to anybody when we are ready to really open the portal. Alright, I think I’ve said all the things I was supposed to say, so I’m going to turn it over to Andrew Ritchie, who’s done a fantastic job as the project manager on this and take it away Andrew.
Andrew Ritchie, MVI real estate developer: So, we’re talking about 49 apartment units. You can see the mix there. They will be mostly larger two and three-bedroom units. As far as the commercial spaces go, the laundromat that sort of came with the building will be remaining in their space and plans to remain open throughout the lengthy construction period that Laura just mentioned. There are other retail spaces available in that building. The space that was formerly occupied by Garletto’s Pizza on the corner is a space of around 1200 square feet that will be available for lease, as well as another space a little bit further up St. Clair. It’s around 1600 square feet that will be available, as well. Mr. Mark Harvey Smith could be speaking about those a little bit later. The largest commercial space, of course, is the anchor spot reserved for the Clairton Library, which we’re very excited about having the opportunity to move across the street into a nice, new facility. As far as the timeline goes, as Laura mentioned, we are in construction now, as you may have seen. That will continue through next June when the completion date is anticipated. So, about a year from now, three months before construction wraps up, is when the preleasing period will start and applications will start being collected.
Next slide, please. Here we have a breakdown of the unit mix. All of the units in this development will be designated for and affordable to households that are at or below 50% of the area median income which is a lot of words. I do have a chart on my next slide that will go into more detail about the income piece there. You can see there – these are the rental rates that will be targeting the opening. There are three units that have been separately subsidized to make them more affordable to households that are very low income – at or below 20% of area median income. NDC is our property management company, and they will be responsible for the tenant application process and overseeing the day-to-day management of the property. The units all have electric appliances and mechanical systems, and tenants will be responsible for the electric bills as well as phone, internet and cable if you desire. Water, sewer and trash will be included in the rent. Seven of our units are fully ADA compliant and will have accessibility features, and there’s two additional units that will be equipped with audio visual features, as well, for tenants.
Next slide, please. This is basically what determines eligibility for a tenant in this development. These household income limits are set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development annually, typically in the spring. I think the 2021 limits should be out next month. You can see this is broken up by the number of individuals in your household size. That would be the income threshold there that would make someone eligible to be a tenant in our property. So, that is just generally some background on the project. I’d like to pass it on now to Rebecca Copeland who is the Regional Property Manager for NDC, and she’ll be able to provide some more details about the application process and how that all works.
Rebecca Copeland, NDC Asset Management: Thanks, Andrew. I’m going to make sure my camera’s on, and here we go. Thanks, Andrew, and hello everyone. My name is Rebecca Copeland. As Andrew said, I’m the Regional Property Manager at NDC Asset Management. First, I want to thank Mon Valley Initiative for inviting me today to be on the panel. I think everyone who’s gathered here in attendance is very excited about the Clairton Inn and what’s about to come next year. Today, I’m going to give you an overview of the application process, and we’ll go over what you can expect for the application process. I want to stress first that again, we’re about a year away from accepting applications. I think the goal for today is really to go through the process so that you know what to expect. There may be some documents that you would want to gather, and it might just be helpful for you to know what you will need ahead of time. The time frame for accepting applications, again, is looking at possibly spring of 2022. When it’s going to be time to accept applications, it will be publicly announced. MVI will also send a direct notification of the application opening date at the same time that it’s released to the public. They’ll send a date to anyone that is on their communication list. If you’re not on that communication list, it’s important to get on that, so you can be notified of upcoming things regarding Clairton. We are not going to provide any applications prior to the opening date of accepting the applications. On the application opening date, we do expect applicants to be able to request their application in various ways. We are going to set it up so that applicants can retrieve application forms online, that you could call and request an application to be mailed to you, or pick one up in person. So, there will be various ways for you to obtain an application. We want to get as many applications out there as we possibly can, so continue to spread the word of the application opening date whenever we get to that point. When you receive your application, it’s going to be very important to answer all of the questions that are on the application, and do not leave questions unanswered or blank.
You want to make sure that you fill in your full name, your full address, and include apartment number if you live in an apartment. You also want to make sure your phone number is listed on your application, as well as an email address if you have one. We want to make sure that we’re able to always have a way to contact you. Before you turn your application in, you want to make sure that it’s signed. Also, if there’s anyone in your household that’s going to be 18 years or older, it’s important that they also sign the application. So, any adult that’s going to be living in the house, we need to make sure the application is signed. When you think about applying for the apartment or the area that you want to live in, you want to think about the number of bedrooms that you’re applying for. There are occupancy standards for the units. If you are applying for a one-bedroom, the maximum number of occupants that can live in that one-bedroom is two. If you apply for a two-bedroom, the maximum number of occupants is four. And if you apply for a three-bedroom, the maximum number of occupants that can live in that unit is six. Your application is going to have the information that you need to return your application.
It’s going to have an email address if you want to return it via email. It’ll have a mailing address if you wanted to return it via mail. That choice is up to you – whatever is easiest for you to return your application. One question that often comes up from applicants when returning the application is they ask do I need to provide information when I return my application? Do you need the copies of my pay stubs at that time? Do you need a copy of my social security card? The answer is at that time when you turn your application in, we do not need any backup documentation at that point. So, turn in your application, make sure it’s completed and signed, and just make sure that you get that application in. When we receive your application, we are going to date and time stamp your application in the order of which your application is received, so all applications are stamped with the date and it’s time that we receive it. Then, we enter your application in our software system based on the order of that application date. That is actually starting a wait list for the property, so it’s in order by the date that we receive your application.
After we receive your application, the first thing that we’re going to do is we’re going to begin to schedule interviews. We will use the contact information that you provided on your application to reach you, so it’s very important that you make sure when you put your application in, that all of your contact information is there. What we do for the interview process is we send you a letter, and the letter is going to outline everything that you need to bring for your interview. There are things that every applicant must provide for the program. You are going to have to bring to your interview a copy of social security cards for all members of your household. Also, we need a copy of a birth certificate for all members of your household. If you don’t have a birth certificate and you have a passport or a baptism certificate, that is also acceptable. We need a photo ID for any member who’s 18 years and older. The photo ID could just be a Pennsylvania state-issued ID card, or it could be a driver’s license. Both are acceptable. You also will need to bring proof of all of your income.
There’s various forms of income that applicants have. If you are employed, we need copies of your six most recent pay stubs. If you receive social security benefits, we need a copy of a current social security award letter. If you receive unemployment benefits, then we need your claim award letter with your claim details. If you receive cash assistance from the Department of Public Welfare, you’ll need to bring that statement showing what you receive on a monthly basis. If you receive child support, a copy of the current court order or any documentation that you have supporting what your current child support order is. For proof of your assets, which is very important that you also bring this information to your interview, you are going to want to bring six months of checking account statements, or if you have a savings account, we need your savings account statements. If you have a Direct Express card, meaning your Social Security benefits go on to a Direct Express card instead of into a bank account, then we are going to need a current balance of that card. If you have an ATM receipt that shows the current available balance is, that’s acceptable.
If you have any retirement accounts, if you have any 401Ks, we need to see the current cash value of those accounts. You’ll want to bring a current statement that shows what the balance is. The other important part of the information that you need to bring is landlord history information. We’re going to look at your landlord history for the past three years. When you come on the day of your interview, you want to make sure you have contact information for your landlords. If you have their name, their telephone number, their address, that’s the information that we need in order to send them a form that they can verify your tenancy. Also, when you come to your interview, you need to bring your most recent signed tax return. Where we are in the process of the year and what you file, you’re just going to bring your most recent tax return. It’s important to note that the documentation that you bring must be your current income. We can’t accept social security award letters from 2018 or 2019. We want your most current information. The other thing is, if you have a household member that is over the age of 18 or 18 and over, they also must attend the interview. If they can’t attend the interview at the same time that you do, we can arrange to meet them separately, which is fine. We know there are conflicts with schedules, but it’s just important to note that all members 18 years and older must interview for the apartment.
When you come to your interview, you are going to bring those items, and when we meet with you, the first thing you’re going to do is sign a release of information. This release gives us permission to discuss your information that we’re going to review that day, as well as collect your information that you’re providing. It also gives us permission to run your background and your credit screening. What we’ll do after you sign your release of information is we’re going to review your application together. We’re going to go through the application that you submitted. You’re going to have a chance to update any information that changed since you filled out that application. We’re going to review all the documents that you brought with you – your pay stubs, your bank statements. We’re going to review all of those items that you brought, and additionally, you’re going to sign third party verification forms. Now, these verification forms are sent directly to the verifier, such as your employer, your banking institution, and your landlord. We’re going to send verification forms directly to those third parties, so they can verify your information. The very first thing that we’re going to do is we’re going to run your background and your credit check. As long as those results are satisfactory, then we continue the process and we send your third-party verifications out.
We need to receive all of your third-party verifications back in order to calculate your income and send your file to our compliance department. An apartment cannot be offered until the applicant file is reviewed and approved through the compliance department. Compliance is going to review all the forms, make sure that they’re all completed accurately, that we have all the verification forms and that the income calculation is correct. For the income, we’re going to have to make sure it falls into the bracket of income that’s needed for the program. After your file is reviewed, a decision will be made and you’ll be notified of your approval. If there’s more information that’s needed after the fact, then we’ll contact you, and we will let you know what information is additionally needed. The most popular question that we always get is, how long does the process take from start to finish? This answer depends. When we send third party verifications out, sometimes the employers are very quick with getting the information back as well as the dates. Sometimes they’re very quick. Banks sometimes can have it back to us in a day or so. Some banks, it might take a week.
Same with employers — sometimes they’re quick and sometimes it takes time. Same goes for family division, as well as the Department of Public Welfare. The average is seven to 10 days sometimes before we get those verifications back, so it’s really hard to put an exact amount of time it will take to process the application. But, we continue to reach out to employers and banks and the third parties to get your information. I think the most important thing is when you come to your interview, come prepared and bring all of that information that’s requested. I’m happy to answer any questions today that you may have and also, I’m happy to return for a Q&A session closer to the application opening date, which will be announced like we said next year. Now, Clairton city councilwoman, Denise Johnson Clemmons, will lead us in the question and answer session.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: Thank you. Hello. Hi. Can you hear anything? You see me? Hi, I’m not seeing myself. Is that okay? Okay, great, I just got a notification that you can see me. Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Denise Johnson Clemmons and I’m the city councilwoman for the Fourth Ward here in the great city of Clairton.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: I am going to be facilitating the question and answer segment. We will start with a few questions that have been submitted previously. If we run out of time for your answers or questions during this event, we will follow up. Remember, questions can be sent via Zoom, our Clairton Facebook event page, or Google voice text voicemail. That number is 412-545-3181. Again, that number is 412-545-3181. I’m going to start with our first question, and let’s see who this is for. Okay, this question is for Andrew. What is the expected move-in date for the units?
Andrew Ritchie, MVI real estate developer: We’re anticipating construction will be complete in June of 2022, so I would say move-in date will likely be in June or July. July 1, I think is a reasonable expectation.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: Okay. Next, also for Andrew, is the rent a flat rate or income-based?
Andrew Ritchie, MVI real estate developer: Almost the entire development is I would say income-based. The requirement is that the income levels are at or below 50% of the AMI. But as far as the rental rate being flat, they will be the same based on the unit size. All of the three-bedroom units, for example, would be the same rental rates, etc.
So almost the entire development is income-based. There is the requirement that the income levels are at or below 50 percent of the AMI. Rental rates will be the same based on the unit size. All of the three-bedroom units, for example, would be that the same rental rates.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: I have a question about security measures for tenants … will the building have secure entrances and exits?
Andrew Ritchie, MVI real estate developer: Yes. The apartment entrance will only be accessible to residents of the building.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: What about garbage?
Andrew Ritchie, MVI real estate developer: Trash will be included in the rent and there will be a trash collection chute inside the building.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: This question is for Gary. What parts of the building are being preserved?
Gary Atcheson, LGA Partners: The entire Clairton Inn is being preserved and we’re pretty proud of the new windows that are going in. We actually went through the state museum and preservation office for approval. On the inside, we’re keeping the old grand staircase from the hotel, that’s pretty exciting. A lot in the apartment interiors are going to be new. There’s not much of the rooms to be saved there, but on the outside, we’re very proud of everything we’re keeping.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: Another question for you, Gary, can you talk a little more about the portion of the building that is being maintained — is it in good shape structurally?
Gary Atcheson, LGA Partners: The Clairton Inn, for its age, it’s in remarkably good shape. We found some interesting things in there — there have been a number of structure fires over the years — but that’s all being addressed. It will be a top shape building by the time we’re done with it. There are a couple of things we have to fix, but it’s actually a fantastic building.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: Will there be on-site maintenance?
Andrew Ritchie, MVI real estate developer: Mon Valley Initiative has its own maintenance staff, and they will be taking care of all of the maintenance in the building.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: Will pets be allowed?
Andrew Ritchie, MVI real estate developer: We have a pet policy, and I believe it’s NDC’s more or less standard policy, that allows for one cat or dog up to 20 pounds. So that’s a small dog, or a pretty big cat. I think there is a $20 per month additional charge for a pet.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: Is there a minimal credit score required?
Rebecca Copeland, NDC Asset Management: There is no minimum credit score per se. There’s no actual number that’s looked at. How the credit screening works, it’s based on the type of offense itself and the number of years old.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: Are apartments restricted to low-income families?
Andrew Ritchie, MVI real estate developer: Yes, all the apartments are restricted to households at or below 50 percent of the area median income.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: Other than security cameras and lighting, what other improvements will be implemented in the area?
Clairton Mayor Rich Lattanzi: The lighting and the cameras, I think will be enough for us to get a snapshot of what’s going on throughout the city. The new lighting alone, I think we’ll light it up where I don’t think it’s going to be an area where you want to do anything mischievous. The cameras will be a live feed back to the Police Department. If something goes on, the city will prosecute, and I think we’ll be sending a message to everyone that we want to make it safe for our constituents.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: Andrew, how many commercial spaces are available, and how large are they?
Andrew Ritchie, MVI real estate developer: There are two vacant spaces currently. One is the space that Garletto’s Pizza vacated. That space is around 1,200 square feet. The second space is up the street on St. Clair. There had been a variety store and that space is around 1,600 square feet.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: What uses are permitted in the building?
Andrew Ritchie, MVI real estate developer: Some of it is determined by the zoning of the central business district. Additionally, there are some specific businesses that would not be permitted, and all of that information will be put up on our website for anyone who is interested. We’ll be working with Mark Harvey Smith, who is here on the panel. He will be receiving most of the calls and inquiries about those spaces and then working with interested tenants to get them into the building.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: Is the income restriction based on the gross income or the net?
Rebecca Copeland, NDC Asset Management: Gross income.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: Will parking be available, and if so, how many spaces?
Andrew Ritchie, MVI real estate developer: There are two accessible parking spaces on-site that are located in the rear of the building, off of Mulberry. All other tenant parking will be available either in the city-owned lot across the street on Miller Avenue, or on the street itself.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: What enhancements will be made to the exterior of the building? Will it be restored to its original decor as much as possible?
Gary Atcheson, LGA Partners: This is something I have trouble answering. We’re going to restore it. We have a lot of masonry work to do — it’s going to be touched up, really fixed up — to where it’s going to last another 100 years. When we talk about restoration, we are keeping the laundromat there, so we’re not trying to put back the facade the way it was when the building was originally built. I’m a little hesitant to use the word restoration, but generally we’re doing a bunch of masonry work, putting in new windows, we’re going to give some attention to that corner up with the top of the building, and make sure all of those cool, old, historic details last. We’re going to give them a good dose of attention now. The other thing that I’m kind of excited about, you may have noticed the old theater has already come down, but we salvaged some of the medallions from that building, and those are actually going to go back up on the new building. It’s unfortunate, that building was not in any way salvageable, but it’s really exciting that we have the opportunity to pull some of those stone pieces back into the new development, and I think the new development is just going to enhance the street and it’s going to help everybody appreciate the existing architecture all that much more.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: This question is for Mayor Lattanzi. I am concerned about more pollution coming to the city, is pollution going to be an issue?
Clairton Mayor Rich Lattanzi: I don’t believe so. We’ve been meeting with U.S. Steel, and their plan is to continue to make improvements, and the environmental groups were putting pressure on them and allowing this to happen. Their long-term goal is to build a co-generation plant, which will take some of the pollutants they currently release and convert it into energy. So I think the future for Clairton is cleaner.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: Denise: This message is for Mark Harvey Smith. Anything else important to know for perspective tenants of the commercial spaces?
Mark Harvey Smith, real estate agent: In a nutshell, we will have an application package together soon that I’ll send out to people. I’m going be looking for a business plan from perspective commercial tenants. In other words, what do you want to do in that space? And how do you expect to do it? Unlike residential leases, commercial leases tend to be longer term — three to five years is not uncommon — so we’re going to be looking for a business plan that makes projections well into the future. Then, of course, we’re going to want to examine the financial capability of the applicant, just as you would for residential. We’ll have a package together, people can contact me for that any time, really, and I’m happy to talk to anybody about these two commercial spaces — and for that matter, anything else that may become available in Clairton.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: This question is for Andrew or Laura. When is the projected grand opening?
Andrew Ritchie, MVI real estate developer: That’s a great question. I would say once we get closer to completion, we’ll have a good idea, but around the June, July period of next summer, we should be ready to party. Trust me, we’re going to have a big grand opening, because we’ve been working really hard on this for four years at this point, and I’m very ready to start celebrating. There is a lot of work to do before we get to that point.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: What is the status of the library at this point? Andrew Ritchie, MVI: I know we have some conversations coming up, there is some work that needs to be done to flesh out the interior. At this point, the city has executed its Letter of Intent to lease the space, and we’ll be working with the library between now and November.
Clairton Mayor Rich Lattanzi: I have a question for Mon Valley Initiative, and maybe Mark Harvey Smith — the two retail spaces, are they going be rented out per square foot or for just a flat rate?
Andrew Ritchie, MVI real estate developer: Typically our commercial spaces are rented based on a per square footage rate, that’s what we intend to do with this project.
Clairton Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: Well, we would like to thank you all for your participation today. For printed copies of materials, please stop by the city building on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Produce Market Place, Terrace Gardens or the laundromat. Please remember, there is no waiting list for the apartments, and the opening of the application process is still about a year away. Those interested in receiving updates about the project, including when the applications will be open and application support, should email or call email@example.com, or 412-464-4000, ext. 4009.
And that is the end of our event.
Laura Zinski, MVI chief executive officer: Thank you all, thank you to the panelists, and thank you to everybody for tuning in. Hopefully this information will live on and be able to be re-seen by people. Councilwoman Denise Johnson Clemmons: Thank you, Laura. Have a good evening, everyone.